DAV chapter retires worn, tattered flags
By Ben McNeely
Don Harrison folded his tattered flags and placed them on a table with about one hundred others.
“There, that makes me feel better,” he said.
One of the flags belonged to his uncle. The other flew over local Republican party functions.
“I take this stuff very serious,” he said. “You need to treat the flag with respect, and this is one way to dispose of it.”
Veterans and local residents gathered in Concord Saturday for a flag retirement ceremony. Sponsored by the Disabled American Veterans Chapter 27, residents burned the flags that were torn and tattered, faded and worn, threadbare and used.
“We’re not burning the flag,” said Joseph E. Lacheney, Jr., commander of the D.A.V. post, “we are retiring the flag and we’re doing it in such a way to honor to flag.”
Old Glory, the Stars and Stripes, the Star-Spangled Banner — the flag has many names, but when it is too worn to display anymore, veterans groups, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts hold ceremonies to retire the flag.
“It’s like burying a person,” Lacheney said. “You show the flag respect because it represents our country.”
The D.A.V. holds a flag retirement ceremony every year — on Flag Day, the day Congress set to honor the flag.
To set it apart from burning the flag in protest, a general flag retirement ceremony consists of saying the Pledge of Allegiance, folding the flag and placing it in a fire. The ashes are then collected and buried.
About 30 veterans and residents participated in the ceremony by placing the old flags in a large iron cooker with a fire blazing inside.
An honor guard fired volleys form their ceremonial guns and a bugler played “Taps.”
Then, one by one, veterans and residents lined up to place the flags in the fire. Veterans saluted after the flags went into the fire.
The D.A.V. retired about 100 flags on Saturday.
“A lady from Wal-Mart called me, asking if we retire flags,” said Edd Furr, a member of the D.A.V. “She said we have a great big one. When I went to pick it up, she had a whole cart full of them.”
Lacheney said the post collects worn flags throughout the year, saving them for the ceremony each year.
“People don’t even have to fold them,” Lacheney said. “We’d like for them to fold them, but we usually do that.”
The American Legion post in Harrisburg performs a retirement ceremony in the fall, Lacheney said, so there are two that happen each year in Cabarrus County.
“We need more patriotism in our country,” Lacheney said. “People need to know that you just don’t put the flag in a trash can just to get rid of it. It needs to be done away in a proper fashion. Men have died for that flag. We honor the men, but we also honor the flag.”
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